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Robbie Britton | Blog

North Downs Way 2013

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Wow. What a race.

At the 2013 North Downs Way 100 there were two events. The main one being 154 starters trying to make it from Farnham, Surrey to Wye in Kent, over 102 miles of the North Downs.

The other race was the one between Anthony Forsyth and Ed Catmur, two chaps who had different race plans and were willing to put it all on the line to gamble on that tightrope of pushing body and mind to the complete limit and seeing if they come through the other side.

The full race report will come out in due time, after all the dust has settled from the 30 hours + of planning, organising, racing and clearing up that goes into each event weekend but a brief summary of the battle between the front two should whet the appetite.

Ed Catmur set off ahead of the pack from the stat of the race, having 30m a the first checkpoint and a good few minutes at each of the following ones, but Anthony raced his own race and kept comfortably within distance of Ed, changing places we he entered halfway at Knockholt in 2nd and leaving it in 1st. Anthony’s super efficient crew making a big difference on the day.

They have been on each other’s tails all day and at mile 65.6 Anthony was still in the lead by 1 minute 45 seconds, nothing in Ultra terms! Both men were looking great, on course record pace and flying on sub 16 hour pace. You never knew we was going to come round the corner first!

The next checkpoint at Detling was 82 miles and first in was Ed Catmur, BY 30 SECONDS! There were still both pulling away from strong runners in 3rd and motoring on to the finish, an amazing effort by each.

Sat at the finish now I know only one thing, Ed has extended his lead at Lenham, to a measly 10 minutes, again nothing in a 100 mile race. One bad mile and that whole lead is gone in an instant, two 20 minute miles and that lead is reversed. The reports are only coming from texts from excited checkpoint volunteers and we honestly have no idea who’s going to come through that finish line first…

All it takes is a wrong turn, very possible on a very well marked course with 15 hours of running in your head and when you question every decision you make twice, maybe three times because snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a British tradition, is something you dread with each passing minute, begging to see the finish line appear.

So we sit here in Wye, just wondering and making penny bets one who will turn up here first. Anthony has an entourage that Hollywood would be proud of, urging him forward and possibly giving him that extra push, that extra motivation to find something else to give in the pursuit of victory. I’m unsure if anyone in Ed’s friends and family know he’s racing? An anonymous solo effort on possibly the hardest 100 miler that Centurion Running stage.

This is the closest to a neck and neck finish you get in 100 mile racing, a race that has a history of throwing up some interesting races but now this one won’t go to the man who has trained the hardest, nor the one with the best crew, the best nutrition or a bit of luck. None of that matters at this stage, now the race goes to the man who can find something more and put it all on the line.

I can’t wait to see both of them finish, they’ve been awesome and either will be a more than worthy winner.

TomTom Runner GPS Watch Launch Day; Running, massage, sandwiches and squats.

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Last Thursday was the launch day for the TomTom Runner and Multisport GPS watch and Rebecca “Coxy” Cox and I had been drafted in as the Brand Ambassadors and Team TomTom running coaches for a day of fun in Battersea Park for journalists, competition winners, retailers and running clubs.

We designed the day as a workshop in improving your running and had the five key areas that we feel everyone can work on or sometimes forgets!

Goals – You should always have goals, something to motivate you and drive you forwards, be it in each session or for your whole year.

Strength – often overlooked by distance runners as unnecessary, strength and speed work is vital to improving your overall fitness and your performance as a whole. A strong core will keep you going strong throughout a race.

Pace – We’ve all done it, sprinting off at the start of a race only to be gasping for air and struggling before the finish. Pace yourself, in training, in races, with your goals, in life.

Fuel – if you’re training for an ultra marathon then you’re already a bit of a machine, so treat your body like one. It needs fuel to operate, to repair and to reach it’s potential so feed it after hard sessions and no scrimping to lose weight. You may get lighter but you will lose power, strength and energy.

Rest – Rab C Nesbitt has this bit down to a tee, sit down and put your feet up more. The more quality rest you can get, the more time your body has to grow back stronger. Adding junk miles onto a tired body will just cause damage and injuries.

So with this in mind we’ve got a wee video of the day, filming by the excellent Mr.Castro.

TomTom Runner Launch Day

The TomTom runner went down well with everyone and it was always funny to see the surprised looks and hear the noises people made when the Quick GPS located the satellites almost instantly every time. The easy to use, clear display is great fun too if you’re sprinting down Box Hill seeing how fast you can get without falling over when you look at your watch. It gave me even more respect for Roger Bannister though

The day as a whole felt like a great success and it was really good to meet plenty of fellow runners, dish out some advice, sprint against a few and learn a little bit more about the bullseye I’ve stuck on my own back with all this running! Great to meet some of the people behind Wiggle, Run24/7, The Guardian Running blog, Men’s Running and bundles of others.

My legs were a little sore the next day though, 6 strength sets followed by 6 5k runs with sprint finishes takes it out of anybody. Luckily there was 6 chances to fuel up on good food and 6 chances to get a sports massage as well, they had the Human Touch brand here so the massage was a great reward for me.

Legs are feeling good now though and I’m taking advantage of this Brand Ambassador role to use my extra spare time to get up into the mountains and do the Welsh 3000s tomorrow.

Coxy, TomTom and I will be at a variety of events throughout the rest of the year, trying to help a few people with their running, showcasing the watch, pacing some people and generally having a good time. First stop is Race the Train in Wales and I cannot wait.

2011 North Downs Way 100

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With the 2013 North Downs Way 100 this weekend I thought I would eventually post my blog about my first attempt shuffling along a Centurion Running event. The inaugural NDW100 was a good day for me.

I’m not one for sentiment but I can’t help a smile spreading across my face whenever I think back to that race, one that I was convinced to run by a Mr. Allan Rumbles because you got a belt buckle for finishing under 24 hours. A shiny belt buckle!

It was a 50 mile out and back course from Farnham, Surrey to Knockholt Pound, right near home and my dad and his mate Mick had offered to come along and help out.

I set myself the target of sub 20 hours and decided I would walk anything that resembled a hill from the start, sharing my misery with Allan Rumbles, as this was his fault really. I really enjoyed the first 30 -40 miles, chatting, eating, never over exerting myself and plodding towards halfway. I met up with Sandra Bowers along the way, a solid runner who was doing the 50 miler, and both our competitive spirits came out as I urged her to beat the woman in front, who knows, she could have be taking the lead? We upped the pace to the half way point and Sandra finished in about 9.50, leaving me on target but with little room for error.

On the way into half way we had seen Dave Ross, Neil Bryant and Mark Collinson all go the other way and Neil, having won the JOGLE the year before, was miles ahead with South Downs Way 100 winner Mark looking strong as well. I turned around in fifth place and I was happy to be on the home straight, albeit a 50 mile one.

I was feeling rough from 50- 65 and, although I overtook 4th place because he was running the wrong way ( I did correct him and run with him for a while), I wasn’t feeling my best and at 65 miles I was still 90 minutes down on Neil, who had led from the start.

At the next checkpoint around 65 they told me I was gaining on third and it brought a little spring to my step. I put the music on, a mix of reggae, dance and indie folk and I pushed my pace. I started to feel good and I knew I could catch Dave in 3rd, apparently he wasn’t looking great.

Coming up Box Hill I was starting to feel rather nice, I was expecting to see Dave any second, pushing on through the woods in the dusk, when in the next clearing stood Dave’s missus, wondering where he was, he must have taken a wrong turn in the woods but I pushed on. He might be just behind me.

I shot down Box Hill, much to the anger of my quads, and met Mick and Dad at the next check, where, to the disgust of a nearby lady, I shouted for Vaseline, chaffage is an issue in many races but the boys were in trouble. I shot straight out the other side of the check though and was off, apparently 2nd was a long way off but going slower than I. I looked too strong, still 24 miles to go, I won’t be able to keep this up.

I trudged up the next hill, eating Gu and any other food thrust in front of me, I was starting to believe I could catch these guys, two very experienced Ultra runners…

I kept feeling good, it was like a 30 mile runner’s high and I kept smashing on. Just before the last check point I saw a light up ahead, surely not? I pushed on and chatted to Mark briefly, he had had some issues with tainted water and was struggling. I told him tag on and we can push to the finish but he didn’t have it in him. I got to the final check and Henk was there, a little drunk as usual, but a stalwart of old school ultra running and organiser of my first 100 at Caesars Camp.

I screamed as I came into the check “how far? How far?” And Mick shouted that Neil was only 10 minutes ahead, but going well. With only 5 miles to go I had to make up 2 minutes per mile. I was rueing my decision to start so slowly, I was going to lose by a tiny amount but I had to try.

Henk told me to f**k off and I let out a primal scream as I left the check point and knew at this point I had to give everything I had, anything less would not be good enough and even that may still have resulted in failure. I pushed on, feeling as if my pace was worth of a 100m final, but constantly hoping to see Neil round the next corner, or just a light in the distance, something to chase.

With about 2 or 3 miles to go I saw a light, one single beam, on the ridge ahead. It was a few hundred metres ahead, but it was there. It couldn’t possibly be Neil. For some reason I turned off my head torch, I didn’t want him to know I was chasing him down and I didn’t know if he knew I’d been sprinting for 30 miles to catch him.

The closer I got there surer I was that it wasn’t Neil, I hadn’t made up the 10 minutes that quickly. I pulled up alongside and said “hello, you’re Neil Bryant right?” And after a monosyllabic reply I congratulated Neil on his JOGLE run and how much in awe of his previous performances I was. As with Mark I asked Neil to tag along but my competitive spirit wanted to leave him for dust.

I pushed on, now with a different fear. What if Neil overtook me now? What if I took a wrong turn? It was actually my race to lose now, Neil had led for 155 of the 160 km but now I was on front, and I felt awesome. I shot down wooded trails and followed sign after sign, begging for the finish to appear.

I heard voices. Was it Neil behind me? No it was ahead, it was Dad. One last little corner they said, I let out another yelp, an involuntary roar, then sprinted for the line. I had done it. I had won the NDW 100 and my time, 19.47 was nicely under 20 hours. It was the closest to a negative split I had ever finished, regardless of distance.

I clapped in Neil and Mark and then collapsed into the van. I was spent, my body had nothing left to give. I had never felt better. Maybe I had a few more miles in me ;)

I cannot think back to this race without a strange feeling running through me, without emotion welling up and a smile reaching my face, even a laugh, maybe a tear. It was a 30 mile runner’s high at the end of a 100 mile race and I loved every second of it. I wouldn’t feel that feeling again until Barcelona 2012, but I know I will be chasing it in every race I do, until they lock me in the sanatorium for good.

Enjoy the North Downs Way 100 this weekend everyone and I hope you find a bit of the magic I did on that trail.

Last Box Hill Endurance Session!

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To the lovely people of the running world!

I am moving away from my delightful abode next to Box Hill (due to me going feral and becoming a full time Remote Ultra Marathon Coach) and I’m going to do one last free Endurance Session on Box Hill with the wonderful, yet sadistic, Rebecca “Coxy” Cox.

The date is Sunday 28th July 2013 and the time will be 1 o clock at Box Hill, Surrey.

To sign up just send an email to Robert.britton@live.com with the subject title “Make me suffer” and I will get you on the list.

It will be a 3 hour session looking at how to build functional muscle for endurance and nippier running and mental and tactical coping strategies for your endurance events, be it a Ironman, a 100 miler, a 5k park run or a multi-day adventure race.

Any levels welcome, the session is adapted for everyone to “enjoy” and anyone so has turned up so far had always taken something positive from the session, as well as a little bit of DOMS.

What have you got to lose?

Petzl South Downs Way 100mile No Head-torch Challenge.

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The Petzl South Downs Way 100 did not figure in my plans for this year, but some nice Twittering by Mr. Sam Robson had whetted my appetite and I got that urge, that desire to run every single race I could. It is usually a little devil on the shoulder that I do my best to ignore, but this time I felt differently.

I’d only been undertaking light duties after the World 24hr Championships in May, taking plenty of rest days and eating well, but I couldn’t lie to the devil on my shoulder, I was going fast. Breaking my own training records in nearly every session and thinking, just contemplating, what if I enter the Petzl SDW 100?

So that little devil won the discussion (he very often does with me, but he’s not that bad a chap) and I found myself in a tent next to the start line in Winchester waiting for my crew to arrive. Unbeknown to me Mick, my usual crew, had had a family emergency and my Dad had to step in at the last minute to help my friend Coxy keep me on track all day. I felt for Coxy, sharing a van with that man all day would be interesting…

At the start line everyone wanted to know how fast I intended to go, James had painted me as the “favourite” for the win and people were talking about the pressure. I didn’t feel it, I just knew I had to go out and enjoy myself and see how my body went. I had a pace in mind but that was my little secret (maybe Coxy and Dad knew too) but none of us really believed it was possible. After some play fighting with Sam at the start, we were off. I was expecting a few guys to rush off but after a couple of laps around the field (my forte) we were off on the SDW.

So it was soon just Sam, a nice chap called Olly and myself trotting along at the front, with us taking turns to get the gates, like a Tour de France breakaway looking after each other. I found myself dishing out advice to Olly in 2nd and thought “how arrogant am I? I’m in first and telling second how to do it?”. We got to the first check point and Olly and me pinged straight through, Sam, being unsupported had to stop and then catch up, a tiring extra activity in addition to carrying those beautiful but weighty sideburns of his!

I soon found myself alone, possibly because of a headwind I was creating myself but I was slightly ahead of schedule and feeling comfortable just trotting along. It was nice to see surprised faces on each of the checkpoint staff as I popped through and I was grateful to see smiling and helpful people at every stage. I love helping out at races and our sport is built on the efforts of volunteers, something we must never forget.

So I figured I’d just plod along until I could pick up a pacer at mile 54 and then get towards the business end of this race. I’d been informed of the stellar performance of Jean Beaumont behind me and there was a little bit of surprise from some people that a lady was in 2nd. Get with the times, women are as good as men at this game and even though the 2 races are classified differently I saw Jean as just another competitor trying to chase me down.

As James said in the race preview, I like to run my own race and will rarely hog the lead early, it just so happened that today my own race was out on the front and I was the hunted instead of the hunter today, a slightly less enjoyable task but good fun all the same. I knew that if I just kept moving faster than anyone else then the win was mine. Only after 54 miles I allowed myself to think about this, the back 50 is the home straight after all…

Coxy joined me at Washington at 54 and I went through in about 7:50, which was a bit under schedule but I still felt fine, the legs strong and able to sneak away from Coxy (a sub 3.20 marathoner and 100 mile runner herself) on the downhill, letting gravity do some of the work for me! I’m no fell runner but I’m not bad downhill for a Southern Fairy, which is possibly more to do with being a few sandwiches short of a picnic than any ability. Coxy did a fine job of pacing and was also grateful for a break from my Old Boy, coping with her own ultra marathon in that van, the two of them having a couple of “navigational disagreements” but keeping it all looking smooth to my eyes!

So on we trotted along, enjoying some fine weather, some tail winds and fantastic views across the South Downs. These rolling hills are a joy to behold and it’s a playground I will be spending more time in in the future. My aim was to get to Ditchling Beacon in 1st place, where I met Paul Navesy, another team Centurion runner and speedster in his own right, and we would make sure we brought home the bacon from there. 30 miles to go and now it really was the business end of this race.

Coxy, glad to have stopped running and probably missing my Dad’s company at this point, was back in the van and Paul and me got going. This section was one of the most runnable in the race and Boy George, were we running. I think there was even a sub 7 minute mile in there somewhere, tanking it down those lovely descents and powering up the hills. Paul reckon the tail wind was making the up hills feel like flats but his fine, waxed legs had only just started. They definitely felt like hills to me!

The food was still going down wonderfully at this point, Cliff Shot Blocks, fruits gums, rice pudding and, of course, jelly Meerkats! It was the fluids that were starting to be an issue, everything seemed to be collecting in my stomach. I jogged into the Petzl checkpoint at Southease and made sure my Zipka head torch was on and bright…shame it was still light but I hope the guys at Petzl didn’t mind my aim to finish the race in daylight? Irony is a beautiful thing!

The next few miles were the only ones of the race where the wheels came off a little bit, walking uphill into a headwind on the big Horseshoe past Southease was where I had to dig deep to keep the pace up. I’d promised not to worry about times until 15miles to go but I knew sub 16 was on the cards if I wanted it. The downhills were still wonderful and I was giving Paul a run for his money, as long as I didn’t lose too much on those pesky up hills!

After emptying a few litres of fluid from my stomach it wasn’t long until I was picking up the pace again and feeling alright. The beautiful thing about a 100 miler, compared to a 24 hour race, is that the quicker you go, the nearer the finish is! I felt that any extra effort was just going to make life easier and I could push hard with actual benefits!

We skipped through the last 2 checkpoints, still leaving that wonderful look of surprise on people’s faces and headed down into Eastbourne, with Paul stopping every now and again to make sure the markings were all in order.

I bumped into James Adams and Drew Sheffield on the final drag to the finishing track and it felt good to be pacing it in to the finish. Drew headed off to warn them but James stayed with, a very nice gesture but I’m not sure if it was his choice to make, we’re still going pretty strong ;)


We hit the final loop of the 400m track and, although I’ve been round a few in my time, this one felt like the longest one ever. I got to the finish line, stopped to walk it in Kilian style, arms in the air and then remembered that just isn’t my style, dropped a shoulder and sprinted over the line (I don’t want to make it easy for someone to take my new CR). Then I collapsed in a heap, a very happy, elated, smelly but joyous heap.


15:43:53. I hope you don’t mind some course language here, but fiddle-sticks, I was pleased with that. There’s a picture of my pacing targets I had set as a high target and I cannot believe how close I stuck to them.


My dad and Coxy were at the finish and I could not have done it without them. Paul made the last 30 so much easier than I had any right to have it, I owe him big time (hopefully an assault on the SDW next year?). Centurion running and Petzl had put on a great event and James Elson was on top form as always, as were all the volunteers.


The £500 that Petzl put up as a prize is a wonderful thing and hopefully a sign of things to come for a great sport that is growing in stature year on year. In order to try and keep Ultra Running as pure as it is now I’m going to donate £100 of my win fee to charity, something that I intend to do every time I am lucky enough to win something, just so we don’t forget the real reasons for being on those trails, enjoying it, pushing ourselves and being part of a great community of people. I’ve chosen the Brompton Foundation, a charity very close to a friend of my mum and one that does great work.(http://www.thebromptonfountain.org.uk/)

What’s next for me? It is always going to be Spartathlon, a race I feel is a worthy adversary to have a right good tear up with. Before that I’m going to make a leap into the great unknown, leave my job and make ultra running my life, with the help of a bit of remote coaching and living dangerously. Fingers crossed!

Box Hill Training Day Part Deux

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Great News!

I have found a better incline on Box Hill, it’s called Juniper Top. I take school groups up there so if a 8 year old girl can stride up, how hard can it be?

3pm on Sunday 23rd June Coxy and I will be running our second Box Hill Endurance Session, just because people loved/hated the first one so much.

Same drill as last time, payment is in sweat and misery and you need to email your interest to Robert.britton@live.com if you are crazy enough to want to come down. Bring a friend and the misery is shared.

What happened last time, words of a survivor.

Space is limited so let me know ASAP and I’ll get your name on the guest-list.

South Downs Way 100 for me this weekend, so at least I’ll be a little tired next Sunday…?

Box Hill Training Day – 9th June. Are you in?

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Are you training for your next big challenge, be it the Three Peaks Challenge, your first marathon, triathlon, Ultra marathon or some meaty 100 miler?

Team GB ultra-marathon runner Robbie Britton and Life after Desk PT Rebecca Cox lifeafterdeskpt.com want to make you suffer a little, just a little, to make sure that when it comes to race day it will take some serious shit to stop you moving forward.

For 3 hours of your life you can come down to Box Hill, Surrey and get a tough training session to help you pace, increase mileage and most importantly endure. You’ll also get some great tips on how to prepare for the big day, manage nutrition and cope with the latter stages of a strenuous physical event.

Hell, the pair of us have both run 100 miles in under 24 hours, Coxy crawled across the desert with shredded legs and I managed a cheeky 149 miles for Team GB at the 24hr World Championships in May. We’d like to think we know what we’re doing.

The cost? The only currency we require is your time and a little bit of misery. Spaces are limited so email me if you’re interested at Robert.britton@live.com. First session is 3p.m. on Sunday 9th June.

It’ll be fun*.


20130529-190711.jpgCoxy and I training the MH2YH.com boys. They still look happy, right?

World 24hr Championships

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So I need to write about possibly the greatest weekend of my life and make it interesting for everyone else too. The World 24hr Running Championships in Steenbergen Holland and the first chance for me to wear the hallowed GB vest. Surreal doesn’t quite cover it… Bloody unbelievable? Phantasmagorical… I don’t even know what that means, but it may do.

After running 231km in Barcelona last December I had the chance to try and recreate, or better, that amongst some of the greatest 24hr runners in the World (including the best of all time, Yiannis Kouros, but more of him later) and boy was I going to take this chance. My training had PB written all over it, I felt good, felt strong, but now I had to come with the goods in the day. I couldn’t wait!

We flew out on the Thursday, Micky Seymour, the best thing to come out of plumbing since Mario and Luigi, and I jetted out and spent the day in Amsterdam where we drank coffee, ate sweets and had a peek at the naughty ladies (I’m not wasting my energy on them before you say anything). We met up with the squad and headed down to Bergen Op Zoom, the location of our Athlete’s Village. Athlete’s Village, hell yeah, I felt like Usain Bolt! I even took the chance to get in on the Japanese team photo and then run off before they noticed!

20130519-135309.jpgBefore anyone points it out, I’m the one on the left and I know I’m still not the tallest!

After an easy night I was up for breakfast but the world of International Sport was calling and I had been called for a doping test. I’m no fan of needles but I loved this, the fact that my sport was important enough to warrant these essential features of modern day athleticism. Only Big Time Charlie’s get dope testing and they wanted little me? This is how you pass a drugs test Lance, you twat.

With a sore arm but a sense of pride I now had to carry the flag at the front of the GB team for the opening ceremony and parade. Oh what a great honour my teammates had put on my shoulders, I thought. Turns out that carrying a flag for over an hour before race day is just something they wanted to avoid! Ha! I’ll carry it every time if needs be, I loved it, struggling to keep a childish grin off my face.


On race day we headed down as a team, with the likes of John Pares, Paddy Robbins, Steve Holyoak, Matt Moroz, Lizzy Hawker, Emily Gelder, Sharon Law, Debs M-C and Karen Hathaway we had a strong team, both male and female. The pressure had been put on the girls before the race but they had some strong personalities who were going to go for gold on race day, there was even talk of World Records.

20130519-112729.jpgThe GB team “Reservoir Dogsing it” to the start.

20130519-113149.jpgMick and I at the start. His support was invaluable. His humour, sometimes unnecessary, but often essential.

Wearing the GB vest and 2 pairs of shorts, just to make the most of it, we set off at 12 and people were flying! The Latvians were on a bloody mission, Matt Moroz was off with Lizzy Hawker at the front and Yiannis Kouros seems to be out to try improve his own records as I tried to mimicking his style from behind, albeit with somewhat limped wrists.


I settled into a wee jog, enjoying the company of the other athletes and plodding along, I wanted to maintain 11k per hour for the first 12 and then slow it down a bit so I dealt with 1k at a time and got on with it. The rain started. It was going to be a long night, but I felt NICE.


The pictures of the night are somewhat limited, mainly due to the pleasant, intermittent, torrential rain and the morale sapping hail. The forecast midweek had me worrying about overheating, the actual weather had me more concerned about drowning, I’m not the tallest of chaps.

Chucking on my La Sportiva Goretex Active Shell Jacket ASAP really saved my bacon that night. Runners were getting cold and having a torrid time, although it was no worse than a British Spring night (I.e. awful), the number of competitors out on the course reached a noticeable low during the evening as great runners had to take shelter and rewarm. The increased stress on the body of a 24 hour race leaves you much more susceptible to other factors you would usually jog off. I reached 130k in 12 hours, bang on target. Now to relax a little and ease to a 100 mile p.b.

At the 100 mile point Paddy Robbins was leading up the way for Team GB and reached a 100 in less than 15, a monster effort. Paddy’s night was not to be a good one though and he suffered in the small hours, having to take a break and having no energy. Unusual for such a strong runner who usually gets quicker as the race goes on but a pit of proof that he’s actually human and not an android set back in time to conquer the Grand Union Canal Race for the good of mankind.

At this point only Steve Holyoak and myself were out on the course for the men’s team, whilst Lizzie and Emily were having a bad day at the office for the ladies. Debs and Karen were plugging away and Sharon Law was cheerfully bouncing her way through the women’s rankings. The only bad point of Sharon doing so well was the infrequency with which I saw her in this race, normally jogging along with a row of men reluctant to overtake or trying to chat her up. Always a pleasure Sharon ;)

Food wasn’t going down too well at this stage but I was still munching some oranges and Cliff Shot Blocks, whilst vomiting every now and again. Morning was coming and it would soon be business time, time to get my act together and start pushing on!

About 19 hours in, fuelled by plenty of flat coke, I was feeling good and started to put in some quicker laps. It was at this point I considered the gamble. I felt good so should I pace it out steadily until the finish, still some 5 hours away, and hope that it all held strong or should I smash the hell out of it now, in the present? My legs haven’t been an issue in races, just my fuel, so I could move quickly and decided to go for it. Make hay whilst the suns shines (or not) as they say.

The next few hours were wonderful, I was lapping people, including Yiannis Kouros, and I felt real strong. Cor Blimey, I even posted my fastest laps of the race about 22 hours in! I was actually lapping the race leader, Jon Olsen, although he had a healthy lead by now, it helped with my confidence. Could I keep this up until the finish?

Alas, it wasn’t to last. I keeled over half way round a lap and threw up about 2 litres of Coca Cola, much to the delight of the nearby photographer who was snapping away. I haven’t seen the photos but if they come up on some fetish site could people let me know…

The last two hours were just a situation of hanging on and moving forward. John Pares, Paddy and Lizzy Hawker were all back on course and all moving round. Even Matt Moroz was putting the odd lap in to boost morale. It was a solid team effort and Steve Holyoak was doing the boys proud with a steady, mature, excellent race. The girls were chomping round too, with Karen, Debs and Sharon all adding to great over night totals.

20130519-115703.jpg Steve pounding round like the running Adonis he is. A fine specimen, with some excellent stories.

I had the pleasure of running my penultimate lap with Chisholm Deupree, a wonderful American runner who helped me when I was feeling low, in return for the encouragement I had given during the race. A real moment that reminded me why I loved ultra running so much. We’re all in this pile of shit struggle together, we’ll get through it.

Happy to finish my last lap near the start, I plodded round for a final one with a Union Jack across my shoulders, but Paddy had other ideas. The “A” standard for qualification was 239km, my last lap was 238.3 or something like that and Paddy was going to drag me kicking and screaming to that A standard. I smashed it round, slapping a few hands but I’d played up to the crowd the lap before, now we had something to aim for. The feed station was crowded with supporters but Paddy went first and was my battering ram. We knew it would have to be past the support tents but where that magical 239 point was, we did not know.


I gave everything I had left and sprinted until that final buzzer went. Once again I knew my legs had much more in them, much more. It is just a case of finding out how to get the fuel in. I crashed to the floor as the horn went, half tempted to throw my finishing marker as far into the distance as I could manage ( which would have been about 8 inches), I just laid it down on the floor next to me. If it wasn’t enough, then oh well, we’d tried.

Mick was there at the finish shortly, and solely to test the quality of Adidas’ waterproof top, I let out a flood of tears, emotion had got too much for me again, but they were tears of joy. The top worked, Mick stayed dry, and I recovered to let people know “I’m not crying, it’s just been raining on my face”.

239km? Did I make? Did I care? I went and sat down next to Sharon.

20130519-120853.jpg She had just set a new PB and a Scottish Record. Enough to secure the 3rd Place in the European Championships individually and the girls took 2nd i the European team event. Brilliant performance! The Team GB performance of the day in my eyes. Steve Holyoak was the top GB runner with 246 km. Great effort.

My results finally came through and it was 239.008km. Ha! I had made it by 8 metres! The first thing I had thought…I wish I’d of known, I could have collapsed 8 metres earlier! That last lap was more painful than anything I had ever done but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

At the end of the day it couldn’t have been done without the great support of my friends and family, the GB support crew, especially Micky Seymour and Richard Brown, the great team out there, all the other runners and everyone supporting back home on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks everyone!

What next? Spartathlon is the next big one, end of September with hopefully some other smaller ones in between. For Team GB? Next World Champs next year, I don’t mind if I do!

Evesham 45, some “wild camping” and a lot of sheep.

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With the World 24 Hour Championships in 3 weeks time in Holland I needed a last long run before the big day and I thought 21st April would be a good day. I couldn’t really find any events on that weekend of marathon distance (God knows why?) so went for the 45 mile Evesham Ultra in the lovely Cotswolds run by Cotswolds Running.

After arriving in Evesham on the Saturday night and practically sleeping in someone’s garden near the start, I then pinched a free breakfast at the hotel (I think the breakfast was solely for runners staying at the hotel but i was staying just outside) and got to the start line in my Team Centurion top and La Sportiva Raptors, thinking that the tough, dry, rocky trails underfoot would warrant a tough mountain shoe more then usual.

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